Pennsylvania boating and fishing license fees to rise?

YORK COUNTY, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is proposing a plan to raise the prices on boating and fishing licenses, the York Dispatch reported in an article Tuesday.

Under the proposal to raise fees, a basic fishing license for a Pennsylvania resident would increase from $16.25 to $20. With a trout stamp, which would increase from $5 to $8, and sales fees, which would be raised from $1.25 to $2, the total cost for trout fishing would increase from $22.50 to $30, according to the newspaper.

Boat fees would rise from $10 to $18 for unpowered boats; $20 to $26 for powered boats less than 16 feet; $30 to $39 for boats 16 to 20 feet; and $40 to $52 for boats 20 feet or longer, stated the Dispatch.

In addition, a senior's annual license would go from $3.25 to $10 for state residents. The proposal also requires a new junior license, $2, for youths between 12 and 16 years old.

The addition of the junior licenses, officials reported, would attract new federal funds that are based on the total number of licenses sold. The state would receive an extra $3 in federal money for every license, according to the Dispatch.

The plan is necessary, said the Fish and Boat Commission, to pay its bills, with the higher fees increasing their profits by $6.8 million annually, reported the newspaper.

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The House Game and Fisheries Committee will hold a public hearing on Nov. 12 to discuss the proposal.

State Rep. Bruce Smith, R-Dillsburg, chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, told the newspaper that while he supports the commission’s proposal, he does not want fees for Pennsylvania trout fishers to exceed $30.

Smith also told the Dispatch that the Fish and Boat Commission would like the fees in effect by next year, but that 2005 might be more realistic.

Commission spokesman Dan Tredinnick told the newspaper that fishing and boating fees typically are increased about every seven years. Tredinnick explained that while the commission usually has surpluses with the new revenues in the years immediately after the increase in fees, in later years it has to tap into its reserves.

License fees make up most of the annual budget for the commission, which does not receive general tax revenue from the state, reported the newspaper.

"We've cut back where we can, but if we don't get some increase in revenue we're going to be looking at major program cuts," Tredinnick said.

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